On Friday morning, the B.C. Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) said the last two members of the Keremeos Search and Rescue made “the very difficult decision to close the group down.”
The release said Darrell Taylor and Rose Koehler, a husband-and-wife team that have been involved with Keremeos SAR since its restart in 2009, found it impossible to recruit enough members to keep the group running.
“We live in an area with a high number of retired people. Those who are not retired are often very busy with work responsibilities and family life,” said Koehler. “Being a search and rescue volunteer typically means a significant commitment in time and energy.”
The two said the decision to close down was gut-wrenching, but they’d like to assure Keremeos and area residents that other search and rescue teams can respond quickly.
“Some of them can be here in 10 minutes,” said Koehler.
The group says search and rescue calls for Keremeos and the surrounding area will now be handled by either Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos or Princeton, depending on where the incident occurs.
The two say anyone worried about a missing person or requiring search and rescue assistance should call 911 to initiate the process as soon as possible.
“We loved being part of this group and providing this service to our town but it was simply impossible to continue,” said Koehler.
The president of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) thanked Koehler and Taylor for their work.
“The dedication these members showed was inspiring and we thank them for their lengthy service, along with everyone else who participated in the Keremeos SAR group,” said Chris Mushumanski.
“We’re grateful for the time they gave and wish them all the best.”
The BCSARA says ground search and rescue in the province is comprised of volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It says there are more than 3,000 search and rescue volunteers in B.C., who make up 78 teams across the province.
BCSARA says these unpaid volunteers provide their time, dedication and expertise as well as their own personal gear at no cost to the people of B.C. and to the individuals they rescue.
Every year, BCSARA says those volunteers attend around 1,900 incidents and, on average, rescue 2,100 people.
For more about the BCSARA, including how to donate, visit its website.